Britain at the crossroads: 50 years of Austerity or a platform for dynamic change


Let’s face it we’re broke…and I don’t just mean financially. We don’t actually make much any more and, even if we did, the smart Entrepreneurs wouldn’t still be here to fund a Public Sector paralysed by its own complexity. A “dumbed down” nation that has grown useless, fat and lazy in the image of the Welfare State that sustains it.

“Clinically obese” was how one expert described the UK Public Sector. We are told that the choices were Quantitative Easing or Austerity. We weren’t really given a choice. It was made for us by a Coalition Government whose preference is to “play Politics” because: they are just happy to have power; are intent upon denying the scale, nature and sources of the problem; lack a vision for our future…or just dosn’t have the balls to do anything except keep on making the people who are softest targets pay!

Why else would a Government choose to appease “the markets” and rating agencies whose roles in the crisis STILL are unpunished – what happened to Corporate Governance, fiduciary responsibility, compliance, etc? – whilst the opinions of ordinary citizens – VOTERS – are disregarded!? There are people of every generation whose lack of informed opinion or inertia allowed successive Governments to spin their way through years of mismanagement and excess. Watch out!  These people have found their voices and now have a common cause.

The need for spending cuts is widely recognised but acceptance would be easier without the lingering stench of institutional corruption, both financial and moral. Continuing resistance to calls for greater transparency don’t help. They have merely added to the feeling of common purpose and solidarity. “Insurgents” who, in the past, would have had to rely upon mass protest to vent their frustration and anger no longer have to play into the hands of those with a long history of executing “command and control” strategies. They have the communication tools, technology and agility to mount guerrilla-style challenges to Governments (and other institutions) who fail to deliver upon promises. But the threat of sporadic disruption and mass civil unrest remains very real. As does the possibility of crowdsourced solutions to Big Society issues!

Banks may have been too big to fail but at least they have the opportunity to repay. I still harbour (a forlorn) hope that they WILL repay even though in 2 years of OUR OWNERSHIP they have failed to keep lending commitments to an increasingly desperate Private Sector…we ALL live in hope!

What is clear is that areas of our Public Sector FAILED some time ago but have been kept alive by unsustainable overspending for too many years. Killed by its own diet of self-serving complexity: high in “bad cholesterol”, causing unseen and irreparable systemic damage. 

Where are savings going to come from?

If I hear about “the threat to frontline services” once more I will not be responsible for my actions! I became so frustrated by all the half truths that are presented as facts that I did some “digging” myself.

FACT: total number of UK Public Sector employees over 7 million. Of which “Frontline services” accounts for just under 2 million. I would love to know how much bigger the disparity is in terms of wages and salaries!

HMRC are owed over£40 billion in unpaid tax and duty

This, along with high profile case failures of Social Work, Welfare and the strain upon NHS, Military, Education or other “problems” that illustrate that we are being poorly served – despite huge increases in PS spending – does not bode well for a prolonged period of Austerity!

imageWe are over-taxed to pay for a heap of services that either don’t work or work in spite of themselves.

Frontline staff in the spotlight and under pressure from layer after layer of incompetence.

I have come to call this complexity paralysis.

These are slides from my pre-election “plea”:

Judging a book

image

It looks unlikely that that our current Political leaders will admit that all they have done is bring in their own particular brand of self-serving mismanagement to compound a top-heavy Public Sector that bears more than a passing resemblance to old days of the Communist Party in USSR.

We are so deep in our own, EU and US doodoo that, soon, we wont actually be able to change direction. In truth the chance may already have passed…

So what do we do now and where will we find “inspiration”?

What about him (left)? No this guy isn’t Sgt. Ernest Bilko he is the late Sir John J Cowperthwaite, a Scottish “civil servant,” rightly lauded as the man who made Hong Kong. Milton Friedman liked what he saw and wrote about “The Hong Kong Experiment”:

A controlled experiment in the field of economics? The last fifty years of history have provided just that. The free economy: Hong Kong. The mixed economy: the United States. The socialist economies: Great Britain and Israel. Nobel laureate and Hoover fellow Milton Friedman evaluates the results.

via The Hong Kong Experiment | Hoover Institution.

SO, I hear you scream, what did he do that was so great and had such a dramatic impact?

He dismantled the tax system required to sustain a top heavy, incompetent and/or corrupt administration. Of course I am paraphrasing, but he introduced a flat rate of 15% with the poor paying zero. The similarities between these administrations is there for all to see.

So, instead of the Private Sector working to pay high taxes that fed the Public Sector – and starved them of the resources to invest, innovate, grow and share their wealth – they blazed a trail that has made Hong Kong the “economic miracle” that it is today. He was appointed in 1961.

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